Sunday, February 24, 2013

Review: Crash by Nicole Williams

Summary: Southpointe High is the last place Lucy wanted to wind up her senior year of school. Right up until she stumbles into Jude Ryder, a guy whose name has become its own verb, and synonymous with trouble. He's got a rap sheet that runs longer than a senior thesis, has had his name sighed, shouted, and cursed by more women than Lucy dares to ask, and lives at the local boys home where disturbed seems to be the status quo for the residents. Lucy had a stable at best, quirky at worst, upbringing. She lives for wearing the satin down on her ballet shoes, has her sights set on Juilliard, and has been careful to keep trouble out of her life. Up until now. Jude is everything she needs to stay away from if she wants to separate her past from her future. Staying away, she's about to find out, is the only thing she's incapable of. For Lucy Larson and Jude Ryder, love is about to become the thing that tears them apart.

Marissa's Review: Aw! This was such a cute read. It was also one roller coaster of a book and I'm glad to say I pretty much enjoyed the ride for the most part. I was so surprised with this book though, because although some parts were predictable, (and to be fair, what contemporary chick-lit book isn't?) this book also had its fair share of plot twists. I think one of the things I also liked the most about this book was that towards the end, it actually had some really great substance to it. I really felt I understood the message that was trying to be brought out through the events that happened between Jude and Lucy. Honestly, I can't say that for most contemporary romance books. Of course, some parts of this book were a bit weird but I felt a sense of satisfaction at the end because they are just so cute together! Overall, if you're looking for a light, fun, and cute romance book that includes your typical bad boy going for the good girl, you should check this one out. 

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Review: The Face on the Milk Carton by Caroline B. Cooney

Summary: No one ever really paid close attention to the faces of the missing children on the milk cartons. But as Janie Johnson glanced at the face of the ordinary little girl with her hair in tight pigtails, wearing a dress with a narrow white collar--a three-year-old who had been kidnapped twelve years before from a shopping mall in New Jersey--she felt overcome with shock. She recognized that little girl--it was she. How could it possibly be true?

Janie can't believe that her loving parents kidnapped her, but as she begins to piece things together, nothing makes sense. Something is terribly wrong. Are Mr. and Mrs. Johnson really Janie's parents? And if not, who is Janie Johnson, and what really happened?

Kim's Review: When I first opened this book, I was excited to read it. It seemed like a really interesting concept, and I wanted to know how it ended. However, it did not live up to my expectations at all. It's a little saddening, because the idea is really great and has a lot of potential, but the author ruined it pretty quickly. Her explanation of Janie's kidnapping is mediocre and just...strange. The writing was good but not great, and there were a bunch of grammatical errors that I'm surprised the editor didn't pick up.

The main character, Janie, is annoying. After the first twenty pages or so, the entire novel is just her going "Oh, I'm going to go find my real parents in New Jersey...wait, no I'm not. Yes I am. Should I do it? Nah, I'm not going to." I was tempted to just skip to the chapter to find out how it ended. (Also, students spontaneously broke out in song not just once, but twice. Seriously, what kind of high school did this author go to?) Janie's friends were also very one-dimensional. They were just there to make conversation and move the plot along and nothing else.

The book ends with a big cliffhanger, but I wasn't inclined to read the next book at all. Rather, I just read the summary on Goodreads (and it doesn't seem like I missed much). If only the author had treated the story a little better, maybe I would have given it a chance. (Now is a good time to point out that this is the first book in a series of FIVE. Maybe I'm just being harsh here, but honestly, who cares about Janie enough to withstand four more books with only halfway-decent writing and plot and characters that just fall flat?)

Review: Beautiful Creatures

Beautiful Creatures by Kami Garcia & Margaret Stohl
Pages: 563
Published: Dec 1st, 2009
Publisher: Little, Brown
Reviewer: Charlotte

Lena Duchannes is unlike anyone the small Southern town of Gatlin has ever seen, and she's struggling to conceal her power, and a curse that has haunted her family for generations. But even within the overgrown gardens, murky swamps and crumbling graveyards of the forgotten South, a secret cannot stay hidden forever.

Ethan Wate, who has been counting the months until he can escape from Gatlin, is haunted by dreams of a beautiful girl he has never met. When Lena moves into the town's oldest and most infamous plantation, Ethan is inexplicably drawn to her and determined to uncover the connection between them.

In a town with no surprises, one secret could change everything.

Wow this is the fastest I've read a book since summer, it gets an award for motivation!

I have to disclose that I saw the movie first. I'm not ashamed at all, because my love of the movie caused me to go home and start the book immediately. This did give me an opportunity to think about book-to-movie adaptations. I think I may write a separate blog post about that, because I want to compare this one to my viewing of Percy Jackson.

What I got at in the above paragraph, is that the movie is a lot different than the book. Different in a way that I liked. This review is about the book though, so I'll leave that discussion for later.

The major thing I liked was reading from Ethan's POV. Most books that are written from guy's POV are written a lot more crudely than a woman's POV. From my reading experience, there's a lot more body descriptions and sexual stuff when it's written with a male voice. I have no idea if that's how men actually think but nonetheless I liked reading a book that wasn't written as if the author knew they were writing a different gender and had to work for it. The characterization was all written very well and the authors made every single character interesting even if they weren't written to be likable. I could list out every character that I loved, or I could just say I loved every single Caster. The history of Gatlin, the descriptions of the plantation, and the complexities of the social structure were other things I loved about this book.

So yes, this book was a fantastic romance. It was more than that though, it was a whole different world filled with new lore. The characters were layered nicely and acted in a way that didn't have me aggravated with their choices. Honestly, the only thing that annoyed me was a tiny thing that's irrelevant to the plot. I didn't like how by the second half of the book, Ethan stopped referring to Lena with her full name, and instead called her 'L'. Seriously, is Lena that hard to write out?

I recommend this book to anyone, if you're a fan of romance or fantasy. I can't wait to start the second book ASAP!

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

Review: Before I Die by Jenny Downham

Summary: Tessa has just months to live. Fighting back against hospital visits, endless tests, and drugs with excruciating side effects, Tessa compiles a list. It’s her To Do Before I Die list. And number one is Sex. Released from the constraints
of “normal” life, Tessa tastes new experiences to make her feel alive while her failing body struggles to keep up. 

Tessa’s feelings, her relationships with her father and brother, her estranged mother, her best friend, and her new boyfriend, are all painfully crystallized in the precious weeks before Tessa’s time finally runs out.

(Note: This review may be all over the place because it's getting late and I'm tired, but I just finished this book five minutes ago and wanted to review it while it was still fresh in my mind.)

Review: This book is beautiful. It's been sitting on my bookshelf for forever, probably over a year now. I don't know why I hadn't picked it up sooner. Right off the bat, from both the book's title and summary, you know how it's going to end, but that certainly doesn't make it any less painful to read, especially when the writing is so, so good. Downham often used metaphors to describe what Tessa was going though, and I found them to be very fitting and accurate. Tessa's wishes and thoughts throughout the entire novel were realistic; not once did an item on her list seem to be too over the top. Her character was relatable, her father broke my heart, and her brother made me chuckle (and tear up) a few times. Her boyfriend was also really admirable. You can tell that these two loved each other, and their story is extremely bittersweet.

I give this book 4/5 stars because while I really don't have anything negative to say about it, it feels like something is missing or not quite right, but I can't put my finger on it. (By the way, Downham is a British author, so some of the British slang the characters used confused me. It's certainly not her fault, though, and I figured it out/got used to it soon enough.) This novel is definitely worth reading; it'll break your heart, and teach you a thing or two about life in the process.

Friday, February 8, 2013

Review: The Chosen One by Carol Lynch Williams

Summary: Thirteen-year-old Kyra has grown up in an isolated community without questioning the fact that her father has three wives and she has twenty brothers and sisters, with two more on the way. That is, without questioning them much---if you don’t count her secret visits to the Mobile Library on Wheels to read forbidden books, or her meetings with Joshua, the boy she hopes to choose for herself instead of having a man chosen for her.But when the Prophet decrees that she must marry her sixty-year-old uncle---who already has six wives---Kyra must make a desperate choice in the face of violence and her own fears of losing her family forever.

Kim's Review: I was first introduced to this story in English class a few weeks ago. We were learning about annotating, and the teacher passed out an excerpt from The Chosen One for us to work on. I immediately thought the story was interesting, certainly better than the boring sports articles we had been working on for the last week. I later found out that this was one of the books on the school library's reading list and made a mental note to check it out. However, I kept putting it off since I was always reading other books. Last week, I walked with my friend to the library, where she returned her copy of The Chosen One and said that she loved it. The librarian agreed with her and told us she had read it in just a few short hours. Finally, yesterday my friend gave me her copy from the library. Before my first class this morning, I was on page eight, and I had finished it by the time my last class ended.

This is a really unique story. I have never read anything like it. The book is told from the point of view of Kyra, a thirteen year old girl living on a polygamist compound. She is confined to the boundaries of this compound, save for the couple of times she has gone into town with her family and the weekly, secret trips to the Ironton County Library on Wheels, where she borrows forbidden books. One day the leader of the Compound, Prophet Childs, and his Apostles come to Kyra's family's trailer to announce that God has "revealed" to him that Kyra is to marry her sixty year old uncle. Of course, Kyra is against the marriage and does not want to go through with it. Her parents are very unhappy about it but accept that it must be done, for it is God's will. Her uncle is perfectly fine with it, and will not take no for answer. Can she somehow get out of going through with the marriage?

Not only is the plot compelling, but the writing is fantastic. Lynch Williams's writing is pretty simple, almost prose-like. She doesn't get too in depth with useless descriptions, which I appreciated (and is probably why the book is only about 220 pages long), and the writing flows beautifully.

The Chosen One is also pretty unpredictable. While reading one page, you may think Kyra will find a way to escape from the Compound, but after reading the next you'll be skeptical. There isn't a way of knowing whether she gets a happy ending or not until you reach the end.

Like the school librarian, I finished this book in a couple of hours, not only because it's pretty short but because it's definitely a page-turner. I encourage everyone to read this book; if you're skeptical but find yourself with an hour or two to spare, give it a chance, and before you know it you'll find yourself on the last page.

P.S. I first wrote that this book was 120 pages long, but it turns out it's 220. I don't remember the last time I read that much in a day. It seriously goes by fast.

(4.5/5 stars)